Baru, Fist of Krosa "The Forests Fight Back" - Plot Twist #6

Jeff Girten • April 9, 2024

Baru, Fist of Krosa by Lucio Parrillo

Welcome back to Plot Twist, the series where we build a Commander deck that starts out telling one kind of story only to throw out a plot twist mid-game. If you're joining us for the first time, welcome! I'd encourage you to check out the previous articles in the series to get a sense for the types of stories we're looking to tell.

I have a confession to make: I LOVE building decks that feature a secret commander. There's something about having to jump through extra hoops for your deck to do something really cool with a card in the 99 that I enjoy a lot. For those of you who are new to the term, a 'secret commander' or 'hidden commander' is a card in the 99 of your deck that's sort of the linchpin around which your entire deck revolves.

For example, in this deck of mine, inspired by one featured on the Spike Feeders' YouTube channel, the whole deck revolves around casting Wild Pair and then casting creatures from your hand that will allow you to tutor up just about any creature in the deck with Wild Pair. Every creature in the deck (including the commanders) has either 6 or 10 total power and toughness, so it's a very toolbox-y deck that tries to find the right answer for a given board state.

Today, we're going to be building a deck with Baru, Fist of Krosa as the commander that features Yavimaya, Cradle of Growth as a secret commander. Since Baru has a Landfall-esque ability that cares about Forests entering the battlefield (not just under your control), it's the sort of strange card that makes for the quirky type of games we love on Plot Twist.

How Does Baru Work?

Baru, Fist of Krosa was part of a cycle of five legendary creatures in Time Spiral with the Grandeur keyword ability that hasn't been revisited since (yet!). Grandeur allows you to discard duplicate copies of the legendary creature to gain some sort of bonus effect. Baru's Grandeur ability makes an X/X token whose power and toughness is equal to the number of lands you control, and while Grandeur seems like an ability that could work in 60-card formats, it's absolutely useless in a singleton format like Commander.

BUT, Baru does have another ability that we're far more interested it. It reads: "Whenever a Forest enters the battlefield, green creatures you control get +1/+1 and gain trample until end of turn." The important thing, for our purposes today at least, is that the Forest doesn't have to enter the battlefield under our control for Baru's ability to trigger. 

In taking a quick spin through Baru's EDHREC page, we can see that there aren't many decklists running around (only 104 at the time of writing) with Baru at the helm. Baru actually shows up in more than twice as many Yedora, Grave Gardener decks! For those few brave souls running Baru, we can see they're mostly leaning into classic green Landfall cards, like Avenger of Zendikar, Rampaging Baloths, Khalni Heart Expedition, and Zendikar's Roil, to name a few. But why should we limit ourselves to only the Forests that enter on our side of the battlefield when we could be doing so much more?

Doing the Twist

As I mentioned above, what immediately drew me to Baru, Fist of Krosa was the fact that Baru's ability triggers whenever a Forest enters the battlefield under anyone's control. My mind started racing with the possibilities that Baru and Yavimaya, Cradle of Growth could open up to us. Suddenly, every land would trigger Baru's ability, and fetch lands would double our triggers.

So instead of building a mono-green Landfall deck that ramped early and ramped often, we're going to take Baru, Fist of Krosa in a slightly different direction. We'll be looking for ramp that allows us to tutor up nonbasic lands, so we can get our Yavimaya early, spells that cause lots of lands to enter the battlefield all at once, and things that will give our creatures evasion so they're able to hit for massive damage thanks to Baru's buffs.

Here's the full decklist for you to peruse:

Secret Commander: Yavimaya, Cradle of Growth with Baru, Fist of Krosa

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Commander (1)
Instants (9)
Creatures (28)
Sorceries (12)
Planeswalkers (3)
Artifacts (5)
Lands (37)
Enchantments (5)

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Ways to Find Our Secret Commander

Like we talked about above, Yavimaya, Cradle of Growth really makes this deck shine because it turns every land on or entering the battlefield into a Forest that will trigger Baru's ability. If our opponents play a land before combat, they'll buff our team. If they cast a Cultivate and then play the second land, all of our green creatures will get +2/+2 until end of turn. While the trample Baru gives our creatures won't help us when we're blocking, the buff to our team will certainly make our opponents think twice about how they sequence their turns, and that's before they discover that we can ramp at instant speed with cards like Archdruid's Charm, Crop Rotation, and Elvish Reclaimer, all of which can get Yavimaya for us, too.

On our own turn, the deck is chock full of nonbasic ramp, like Expedition Map, Hour of Promise, Pir's Whim, and Tempt with Discovery, that allows us to reliably get our Yavimaya and potentially trigger Baru's ability multiple times in one turn. We're able to get a little extra advantage off of Pir's Whim and Tempt with Discovery because, as long as we have Yavimaya in play, the lands our opponents get will also be Forests, netting us an additional buff from Baru.

Other Ways to Make Lots of 'Forests'

If our Yavimaya, Cradle of Growth gets removed, we also have two backups that will do similar work in Dryad of the Ilysian Grove and Prismatic Omen. Unfortunately, these only turn our own lands into basic Forests, but it will still allow any land in our deck to trigger Baru's ability. They're both still worth running, though, because it only takes a couple of land drops in a single turn before Baru has turned our creatures into massive threats.

We've also got a few effects that will allow us to put a lot of Forests on the battlefield at once. Awaken the Woods lets us make as many Forests as we can pay for, while Ashaya, Soul of the Wild turns our creatures into Forests, so every creature we play will buff each of our creatures by +1/+1. Ancient Greenwarden lets us replay lands from our graveyard and lets us double up on the value of Baru's trigger to boot. It's also worth pointing out Wave of Vitriol here because we could (in specific circumstances) use it to put a bunch of Forests into play all at once, but we have to be careful because if we cast Wave of Vitriol with our Yavimaya, Cradle of Growth out, we'll have to sacrifice Yavimaya before the new lands enter the battlefield.

Turning Forests into Wins

As any Voltron player will tell you, we can't rely on our commander sticking around for long once our opponents know what our deck is trying to do. Thankfully, there are a lot of weird cards that care about Forests that we can use to great effect! With Yavimaya, Cradle of Growth out, Coiling Woodworm could easily kill any opponent if they don't have a blocker up. Hidden Path and Lumbering Satyr are great ways for us to give all of our creatures unblockable if we find that Baru's buffs aren't enough, but be careful that your opponents aren't able to kill you on the backswing. Beacon of Creation, Scute Swarm, Kalonian Twingrove, and Dungrove Elder are all here to help us go wide or tall as necessary. And, finally, Nissa, Ascended Animist is here as a reminder of what Baru, Fist of Krosa would look like were it printed today wincon.

We've got plenty of more 'traditional' Landfall win conditions, too. Avenger of Zendikar makes an appearance alongside fellow Landfall wincons Zendikar's Roil, Titania, Nature's Force, and Titania, Protector of Argoth. There's a reason these cards show up again and again in Landfall decks, and they'll help this deck be a little more formidable by making plenty of green creatures for Baru to buff with each and every land drop. 

Since we're a creature-centric deck, I included a few other wincons, like Akroma's Memorial, Beastmaster Ascension, and Return of the Wildspeaker, to help us get that last little bit of damage through.

A Few Extra Twists for Good Measure

One thing I discovered while brewing this deck was that there are a lot of downright weird cards that care about Forests and almost all of them are busted with Ashaya, Soul of the Wild in play. With Ashaya in play, Timber Protector makes all of our creatures (except for itself, unfortunately) indestructible. Both Patron of the Orochi and Llanowar Druid allow us to do some interesting untapping shenanigans on our opponents turns to give our mono-green deck access to vigilance, and that's to say nothing of creatures like Beanstalk Giant, Dungrove Elder, Kalonian Twingrove, and Ulvenwald Hydra, whose power and toughness will be huge with Ashaya in play. 

I also want to draw your attention to Rootpath Purifier and the way that it really opens up potential for us to find Yavimaya, Cradle of Growth or Field of the Dead with ease. While Rootpath Purifier doesn't make the lands in our deck into Forests (it just makes them basic lands but does not grant a specific basic land type, like Forest, Plains, or Island), it does allow anything that searches for a basic land find them. Suddenly, Terramorphic ExpanseField of Ruin, and Roiling Regrowth can find the best card(s) in our deck.

Roll the Credits

I hope you enjoyed reading the latest edition of Plot Twist featuring Baru, Fist of Krosa. Next time you sit down for a game of Commander, see what sort of plot twists you can add to take the game's narrative in a new direction.

I'd love to hear your thoughts on today's deck and what cards could find a home in it in the comments below or on Archidekt. The Maybeboards of my decklists are always filled with cards I thought could work but didn't make the final decklist.

You can find me on Instagram at @girtenjeff and you can check out my other articles here or see what decks I'm currently playing here

Stay tuned to see what other twists and turns are headed your way in the next edition of Plot Twist.